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RSL captain Kyle Beckerman relishing World Cup role with USMNT

Published June 19, 2014 10:15 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Kyle Beckerman is no longer a secret, not that he ever really was one in the first place.

The dreadlocked 32-year-old Real Salt Lake captain known for his tenacity in the midfield and his ability to quell opposing offenses and dictate flow of a soccer match surpassed all the daydreams he ever had of being a World Cup player. His ability shined through. In his 90-minute performance against Ghana Monday in the first outing for the U.S. men's national team, Beckerman's reviews worldwide were nothing short of a standing ovation.

He's never been known to let a stage overwhelm him, and Monday was the same per usual. Beckerman was, as several media types have noted, "everywhere" against Ghana, likely solidifying his spot in Jurgen Klinsmann's starting XI again Sunday against Portugal in Manaus.

It should come as no surprise that the RSL face-of-the-franchise is getting more and more press. His laid-back, simple attitude has intriguing to reporters worldwide and has captivated several notetakers. After the victory, Beckerman spoke with reporters for 20 minutes and was made available at the USMNT press conference Thursday morning. Of all the famous footballers across the globe in Brazil, it was RSL's fly-fishing fanatic captain who was named by Vogue as "12 Players Who Are Reason Enough to Watch the World Cup."

Essentially, Vogue tabbed Beckerman in its Top 12 most attractive, rugged, appealing soccer players in Brazil. Noted along with icons Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Lionel Messi and others, Beckerman's description by Vogue reads as follows:

Known for: One can easily spot Beckerman's signature dreadlocks, which he says were inspired by a Bob Marley CD cover.

Romantic status: 2014 has been a good year for the American midfielder, who not only is competing in his first World Cup, but also married his longtime girlfriend Kate Pappas, in January.

Suffice to say, Beckerman's stock is perhaps the highest its ever been as a professional in his 15th season in Major League Soccer. I spoke with RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey and asked if having his star player seize that long-awaited moment on the world's stage leads to ever entertaining the idea of larger clubs from around the world approaching RSL about Beckerman's services.

"I think one of the things often overlooked in all the transfer stuff is, it comes down to the player," Lagerwey said. "If Kyle's happy here, then it doesn't matter. I like to think we have a good environment here. He's under contract with us for the next couple of years."

As for interest?

"Will we get phone calls? I'm sure we will, not matter what his age is," Lagerwey said. "Good performance is good performance."

Beckerman's performance against Ghana was nothing new to Lagerwey or RSL's supporters. "He played a Kyle game. He did all the things he does well. When the U.S. is under heavy pressure, and when you're under pressure like that, your defensive midfielder better have a good game."

Beckerman did, and the world watched.

RSL coach Jeff Cassar echoed Lagerwey.

"It was a typical Kyle match," Cassar said. "The difference is now the whole nation, the whole world are seeing the qualities we get to see day in and day out, which are so many things: Cutting off passing lanes, starting the first pass to start the attack, allowing more people to allow things going forward. We've become accustomed to it, now the entire U.S. see what we get to see every day and game."

-Chris Kamrani

Twitter: @chriskamrani